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October 22, 2013

Former OU professor faces nine counts; jury selection to be finalized this morning

NORMAN — Potential jurors answered a variety of questions by prosecuting and defense attorneys Monday during the first day of former OU professor Dwain Pellebon’s jury trial.

Pellebon, 56, of Norman, was charged in 2011. The charges were amended in 2012 to three counts of child sexual abuse and six counts of lewd or indecent proposals to children.

Defense attorney David Smith talked to some of the jurors about the number of charges involved in the case, wondering if some may think “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

While some of the jurors said they believed that with so many allegations, some of them may be true, many said they would need facts before believing any allegations.

“I believe in the Constitution. I could be this man,” one potential juror said, pointing at Pellebon.

“This is a man’s life we’re talking about,” another potential juror said, while someone else added that these charges are “just one side” of the story.

When Smith talked to the group about responsibility, he asked them, philosophically speaking, how many of them would want to be in his shoes, defending his client. Several heads shook no.

While Smith said he holds responsibility, at some point, that is going to shift to jurors because they will have to make a decision.

Assistant District Attorney Susan Caswell questioned jurors earlier in the day about being able to assess punishment if they found someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Everyone said yes.

Punishment for the crimes include no less than three years or no more than 20 years in prison if found guilty of lewd or indecent acts to a child over 12 years of age; no less than 25 years or life in prison if found guilty of lewd or indecent acts to a child under 12 years of age; and up to one year in prison or a maximum of life in prison if found guilty of child sexual abuse.

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